After a particularly bad showing -- even for me -- in my NCAA tournament pools (though I did do better than the president; however, I did not organize an historic change in public policy), I decided to continue with the horrific prognostications and I filled out a sheet in Wezen-Ball's predictions pool. I did not put much in the way of specific thought into my choices; my picks are more an on-the-fly guess based on reading a lot of preview material.
So here goes nothing ...
New York (93-69)
Tampa Bay (91-71)
Predicting these top three is a tossup. It wouldn't surprise me to see any of the three get to the World Series, with two of them facing off in the ALCS to do so. I'm kinda with Keith Olbermann in thinking that it might be expecting a lot for the Yankees to get through another season with all their aging stars avoiding DL time. ... Baltimore doesn't quite have enough pieces and I'm afraid Toronto is on for one loooooong season. Eh.
Kansas City (70-92)
Another division in which I could see any of the top three winning it. I sort of took the easy way out putting Detroit and Minnesota in a tie (though the win totals are even more of a shot in the dark than the positioning), but the Twins' move to Target Field may be the biggest ballpark change we've seen out of them all. Though I also feel that if Joe Nathan weren't lost for the season, his presence would be good for at least three or four wins -- and the division title. So in looking at Tom Verducci's list of teams with losing records last year who could reach the playoffs this year (at least one team has done so in all but one year of the Wild Card era), I went with Chicago. ... Poor Zack Greinke. He'll have so little help. I'm not sure the Royals made a single good move in the offseason. Jason Kendall for two years? Really?! ... I just hope the Indians are able to keep Shin-Soo Choo beyond this season.
Yeah, I'm drinking the Kool-Aid on the Mariners. I can't say I'm too confident in that choice, especially with Cliff Lee off to an inauspicious start in Seattle. I just don't know if the Angels still have the pitching. I do think the Rangers are set to make some more strides this year, but the A's just don't have the offense -- they're even more anemic than the Mariners.
New York (84-78)
I admit, this is as much hoping as it is predicting. I'm just tired of the Phillies. Though, as you'll see by the other records, I think they make the playoffs. I'm just not sure -- again, like Olbermann -- that Philly will be as fortunate with the injuries. I mean really, did the Mets take their share, plus the Yankees' plus the Phillies' last year? ... My choice of 84 wins for the Mets is down from what I thought at the start of Spring Training, when I was saying about 88 in discussions with friends and colleagues. But after seeing how the Maine-Perez-Pelfrey trio performed in Florida, losing Daniel Murphy (and not taking that opportunity to give Ike Davis a shot) and hearing that Alex Cora and Gary Matthews Jr. will get the Opening Day starts over Ruben Tejada and Angel Pagan, my faith is again shaken. And 84 is still a hopeful pick -- as in hoping the Mets can have one of those inspired spurts after changing managers. ... Florida definitely has some great stars, but who's after Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco? Who's in the bullpen? And it's a bit of a top-heavy lineup. ... Washington will score runs and Stephen Strasburg will draw the fans and live up to the hype, but the back half of the rotation, the bullpen and the defense aren't enough to get them to 75 or 80 wins this year.
St. Louis (88-74)
I just think that Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan are a strong enough nucleus/braintrust and there wasn't enough improvement elsewhere in the division to close the gap. ... Chicago might be too high, unless Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez improve over last year to make up for the inevitable regression by Derrek Lee. Love the guy, but not sure he can repeat last year. ... Milwaukee brought in Doug Davis for the rotation and last year's Opening Day starter, Jeff Suppan, had a horrible spring and was placed on the DL in favor of ... Manny Parra. ... I can't buy into the Reds because Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo haven't been pitching like front-of-the-rotation pitchers for a couple of years. ... The Astros are plummeting so fast that I think the Pirates beat them out of the cellar.
San Francisco (84-78)
Los Angeles (83-79)
San Diego (77-85)
Big fan of the Rockies. I love Troy Tulowitzki and think their pitching is solid and they've got a great collection of young stars to offset Todd Helton's golden years. ... The Giants' big three in the rotation is great, but Jonathan Sanchez needs to put it together and they need to score more runs to win the division. ... As great as Joe Torre is -- and he's probably the perfect manager to guide the team with the off-the-field drama of the McCourts' divorce -- I don't know that he can manage around Manny Ramirez's fade or a depleted pitching staff. This is a team that was one step away from the World Series the past two years, but has only subtracted (at least from 2009 to 2010) and not added the pieces it would need to get past the Phillies. ... Arizona could reverse that record with a healthy, uninterrupted season from Brandon Webb. Well, once he comes back from the DL, that is. ... Does Adrian Gonzalez finish the season in San Diego, or in October? That is the question.